Our 4 Top Tips On Taming The Agency Chaos

Taming the chaos woman hand

by Leah Bond

October 26, 2020

Do You Ever Feel Like Your Accounts Are Managing You Instead Of You Managing Them?

Are you sick of putting out PPC fires instead of focusing on your strategies?

Read on for our top tips for turning ppc management chaos into proactive account management systems so you can sleep well at night, and stop feeling overwhelmed. When you’re free to deliver your best, you can turn client phone calls from raging to raving! So, where to begin?

Automation is key to scalability and control, but you need to have the basics in place for it to be effective. Below are some foundations to help you simplify your agency process and set yourself up for automation success.

#1: Adopt An Agency-Wide Naming Protocol

This is the nuts and bolts stuff. But if you want automation to work effectively, you need to be able to scale it. And to scale it, you need to be able to apply a strategy across different accounts. The easiest way to do that is to have the automation call out certain elements of a campaign and take a particular action based on the performance of that element. For example, if you name your campaigns with a universal naming system (such as Search campaigns containing _SEA to signify that it’s a Search campaign), you can set up automations will that might stop looking at the campaign for certain behaviours if it was named (for example) _SHO (shopping).

Further, you need to be able to quickly read campaign structures across various managers in your agency. Consistent naming protocols work like road signs – they become so familiar your brain reads faster and looks for anomalies, and doesn’t seek to translate. This also helps your managers to be effective if they need to step into an account when someone is away or leaves the business.

Within PPC Samurai, you can build a workflow that looks for naming conventions that aren’t in line with your plan and alerts you to their existence. You can then download those as a CSV, make the necessary changes, and upload the changes in bulk via Google Ads Editor. This is helpful when you’re bringing everyone in line, but it’s also something you should do regularly to make sure that no rogue naming protocols are causing your automations to fail.

Here’s a starter set of naming conventions we find effective:

Sample Agency Naming Protocols

They should be unique from each other, and ideally contain some sort of unique character to eliminate the possibility that your naming system could potentially form part of a natural word that might be included in the campaign name. In our examples, we use underscore.

Campaigns
Search =
Display =
Shopping =
Dynamic Search Ads=
YouTube =
Examples
_SEA
_DIS
_SHO
_DSA
_YT
Campaign overlays
Remarketing =
Smart =
Examples
_RMKT
_SMRT
Other
Location
Device
Schedule
Agency's Name Abbreviated
Examples
_USA
_Mobile
_Weekdays
_ABC
Example combinations
Smart Shopping =
Agency called "Get Online Today" creates a dynamic search campaign, targeting a remarketing audience on mobiles in the UK =
Examples
_SHO_SMRT
_GOT_DSA_RMKT_Mobile_UK

Pro tip 1: Construct your naming system in a way that naturally sorts campaigns into an order that makes sense to you. For example, if your client targets USA and UK separately and you want to see all USA campaigns grouped together followed by all UK campaigns grouped together, put your agency naming first followed by location naming.

Pro tip 2: Naming conventions don’t have to stop at the campaign level!  If you’re familiar with our BMM/Exact strategy, you’ll know that we also use naming conventions at the ad group level to differentiate between different types of ad groups.

#2: Pick A Campaign Structure And Be Uncompromising About It

Find a campaign structure that you are comfortable using for 95% of situations, then use that for your clients unless there is a very good reason not to. Be brutal. Having different campaign structures for different clients is a massive productivity killer and makes scaling through automation just that bit more challenging.

Once you’ve decided on a campaign structure, gather your data and build marketing collateral/pitch resources around the benefits of this structure, making it simple to sell that approach to new clients. The development of data driven marketing materials spruiking how well you do that thing you do (be as technical as suits your target market, but remember to be focussed on the benefits to clients) will help you sell your strategy to new clients.

Not only will a unified approach to a campaign structure increase productivity, it will also give you a better chance to refine it as edge cases arise, and set in place checks and balances as you become more experienced. This should result in less unexpected events occuring in client accounts, but also, it will help to align your team behind a single way of working. This is so important when the agency chaos is a result of an unexpected team absence or departure. A unified approach to campaign structure and an agency wide approach to managing known risks within that structure should result in a more consistent outcome for clients, even through difficult times internally.

For lead gen campaigns we personally feel strongly about BMM/Exact as a structure. BMM/Exact takes the best of two campaign strategies, Alpha/Beta and SKAGS, and combines them to create a single powerful structure that will focus your efforts on what’s important – improving agency efficiency and improving the performance of the campaigns for your clients. And you can manage highly efficient and high performing campaigns in a fraction of the time. All the BMM/Exact global templates are available in PPC Samurai accounts, for both Google and Microsoft Ads accounts. Not looked at BMM/Exact before? Here’s a quick one hour training program on it, and it’s free!

Pro Tip: After you’ve decided on a campaign structure, for total control take the time to map out your whole agency SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). More on that here: Our Top 3 Tips On Growing Your Agency And Not Your Headcount

#3: Trim The Fat 

Grab a pen and paper, and for two days write down everything you do in your workday. On day three, invest 15 minutes to rank those activities in terms of the value they return to your clients. Now, check out the bottom 30% of activities, and really ask yourself if you can either stop doing those things altogether or at the very least, do them less often than you do now.

You’ll be surprised at how much time this’ll buy back for you, with very little impact on your clients!

Why? On busy days we tend to focus on small tasks we can get done quickly, over big tasks that have an impact but take breathing room. As the suite of ‘Smart’ products continues to expand, it’s becoming increasingly important to be sure that what we’re doing adds value to clients and is aligned with the bigger picture. Focus on the difference between urgent and important.

Additionally, consider which of the activities you did in the past two days that could be automated. Start with those that return the most value to clients and work down from there. Consider first the things that would result in an angry client phone call or a possible client loss- things like a failed shopping feed or a runaway budget.

That leads beautifully to the final tip!

#4: Set Up The Guardrails

Identify the top five intermittent problems that would give you heartburn if they happen (think about those fires!) and build alerts for them for all your clients. Here’s one to get you started – create an alert to let you know if a client’s account has stopped serving ads (can indicate an account critical situation such as a credit card payment has failed). Roll that out to every account. Make sure it’s automatically applied every time you import a client into PPC Samurai.

By using PPC Samurai you can end awkward client calls, sleepless nights and unpredictability via custom alerts and workflows that look for problems and manage budgets safely.

What are the top five intermittent problems that make YOUR heart race when they happen? Which ones will you start with?

So, to recap!

Step One – Adopt An Agency-Wide Naming Protocol
Step Two – Pick a Campaign Structure and Be Uncompromising About It
Step Three – Trim The Fat
Step Four – Set Up The Guardrails

We look forward to hearing how you go! And if you need a hand at all, please reach out. You know we’re a helpful chatty bunch and we love to hear from you.

Book a demo to see how PPC Samurai can work for you and your business.

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